Memories That Give Me Hope

As you get older, your favorite memories start to fade away. I am finding that it is harder for me to recount everything that has happened in my life, some good and some bad. Honestly, there are some things I never want to remember again. We all have those memories. But I always want to remember the good times, so I write down as many as possible. Today is one of those days I want to share some things with you.

Forgive the length of today’s blog, but my hope is when you reach the end, you will be encouraged to recount your own memories of all the good things that have happened in your life.

In a world going crazy, we must remember all the times, big or little, we have been blessed along the way.

This morning in my quiet time, I was recounting all the ways God has shown his presence in my life over the last 30 years. They are memories that give me hope today.

Now I can clearly see the Lord’s presence in my life when I was 22. I remember the night my best friend invited me to go out with her and her new boyfriend. I declined because I was tired and didn’t want to be a third wheel. In the wee hours of November 27, 1989, the new boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel of his pickup, crashed into a concrete pole, and killed my best friend.

I remember the time the Lord protected me while on vacation at the Suwanne campground. My best friend and I were crossing the Suwanne river via a train bridge. We were halfway across, and we heard a train whistle blow. I turned around to see a train barreling down on us. We had two choices; run or jump to our possible death into the river some 50 feet below. We chose to run and barely made it across before the train whisked by. That’s a memory I will never forget.

There was the time I was sitting at a stop sign waiting to turn left. A car turned in front of another car, and they collided, resulting in the one car rolling three times and finally coming to a stop. Had the car rolled one more time, it would have rolled on top of me.

Or the time I was making wooden Christmas trees and snowmen, raising money for a single mom who has a terminal disease. I got all the wood for free for weeks. While making the snowmen, I was short three washers. In my haste, I failed to buy them from the big box store. On my way home, I decided to go by my favorite free wood stop to see if there was any wood worth picking up. As I loaded the free wood into my car, there were three washers the exact size I forgot to buy at the store an hour earlier underneath the second pallet.

Another time I set out to build my grand nephew a playground in my backyard. I was short three 4″x4″x8′ posts for the base of the playground. I started to drive to the big box store, and something told me to go by my favorite free wood spots I used in the past. When I arrived, there were three 4″x4″x8′ posts sitting on top of an old fence the company had replaced earlier that day. I grabbed those along with more wood and drove home. My vision for the playground expanded, and I am happy to report that most of the playground is made of free wood.

There’s the time I sold my house 17 years ago to a couple that was 5′ 5″ tall. My bathroom ceiling was 6′ 2″ high. Only a short couple could have purchased that house, and they did. Oh, the memories in that home – some good and some bad.

The house I now live in is another favorite memory of mine.

I put an offer on this house 17 years ago. I was among five other bidders. Needless to say, I wasn’t the highest bidder. I spent the next month and a half searching everywhere for a house. I was outbid on every house. The housing market was on fire in 2004. A month and a half later, as I sat at the closing of the home I sold prematurely, my phone rang. It was the bank that owned the home I first put a bid on. The original buyer fell through. The other four bidders found homes. They asked if I still needed a place to live. Yes, I did! They offered the same terms and the same original closing date.

Within a week and a half, I closed on this home. My home buyers let me stay in my home for two weeks after our closing, so I didn’t need to rent anything short-term for my daughter and me.

There’s the time I was driving to an appointment a few hours away. Back then, I didn’t have a fancy cell phone with map ability. I pulled over on the shoulder of I-95, cars racing by. The directions to the business were in my laptop bag in the trunk. I carefully got out of my car and walked back to the trunk, and there on the ground was a dollar bill. How is it that a dollar bill was lying right there on the side of a bustling highway?

That reminds me of the time I had no money in my bank account or wallet. While at work, I decided to go for a walk to clear my head. How was I going to buy a few groceries for my little girl? We were out of the essentials, and payday was days away. While on the walk, I found a $5.00 bill underneath a tree. I could buy bread and milk. When I returned to my desk, there was an envelope with my name on it. Inside was $40.00. Someone in the office felt led to leave some cash on my desk.

2011 was the worst year for me physically. I had suffered for many years with a herniated disc at the L4/L5 level. But in 2011, the pain intensified, and I could barely walk. My trips to the grocery store required using the motorized carts because it was too painful to walk. I spent the entire year trying to get relief through various avenues. I tried chiropractic, pain clinics, cortisone injections, and physical therapy. Nothing worked.

I was graduating college on December 4, 2011. Barely able to walk, the school admin placed me at the front of the line. I was going to be the first one to receive my diploma. They did away with giving diplomas in name order. As I hobbled up to the stage to receive my diploma and walk across, I asked the Lord to help me make it across as pain-free as possible.

I walked up the 3 steps and stood on stage. The college’s headmaster handed me my diploma, shook my hand, and we took the obligatory photo. I turned to walk across the stage, and as I took the first step, I felt no pain. The second step – no pain. I kept walking, and I felt no pain as I crossed the stage and walked down the steps back to my chair. It was awesome!

Another miraculous thing happened at the graduation ceremony. I had attended this college at the urging of an interim pastor named Mark. I met Mark at our church in 2006. He encouraged me to go to college. I was 40 at the time. I took his advice and did all my courses online. In 2007 Mark died of a major heart attack. He was in his 40’s and left behind a wife and three daughters. He was an awesome pastor and sadly missed.

As I mentioned previously, the school admin sat me in the first seat at graduation practice. They sat a guy next to me I didn’t know.  Honestly, I didn’t know anyone because I did everything online.

On graduation day, the guy they sat next to me for reasons unknown didn’t show up, or they changed his seat. I don’t know what happened. All I know is another guy sat down next to me, and when I turned to say hello, I gasped a bit. He looked confused, and rightly so. When he inquired if I was ok, I asked him his name. His name was Don. I told him I couldn’t help but notice the uncanny resemblance of my pastor friend who had died four years earlier.

I proceeded to tell him the story as we sat there waiting for everything to begin. It turns out he was one of the pastor’s best friends who Mark had also encouraged to go back to school and get a degree. They were both Gator fans, and he missed his friend dearly. The two of us were the first two students to graduate that day. When graduation was over, we took each other to meet our families and tell them the story. It was incredible.

In January 2012, my dog of 15 years passed away. Juju was a miniature pincher. He had been with us since my daughter was born. It was a painful experience, and I wasn’t ready for a new dog right away.

On February 14, 2012, I underwent back surgery to repair my herniated disc. I could barely walk before surgery. After surgery, I could run. What a blessing!

In 2016, I decided it was time for a new four-legged family member. It was almost Christmas, so I set out to find our new furry friend. On Saturday, I went from one pet store to another, looking at four-legged friends. None of them felt like the right one for our family.

It was late in the afternoon, and the shelter was about to close. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the shelter in time. In my mind, I should have started there first, but for some reason, I didn’t. Instead of going home, I decided to try one more pet store across town. A half-hour later, I arrived to see what they had. Everyone was drooling over cute little puppies, but an older dog lay in a cage below all the puppies. They estimate she was about two or three years old. Someone rescued her from the side of the road.

I asked them if I could pet her, and they brought her out of the cage. As I sat down on the floor, the dog fell into my lap and lay there calmly. I kept looking at her, and she at me.  I fell in love. After completing paperwork and an inspection, that dog became a permanent family member a few days later. She is still the best dog I have ever had.

I can keep going with memories of how the Lord has shown himself to me, but I will close with this heartfelt memory.

In 2009, my baby brother Joey was in the final months of his life. Joe had contracted HIV when he was 18 and lived with HIV for many years until his HIV turned into full-blown AIDS. He lived with AIDS for many years. Joe made it 20 years living with the disease. But while fighting AIDS, he got colorectal cancer which is common in AIDS patients, from what the doctor said.

I became Joe’s health surrogate in 2009 while he was living in a nursing home. Joe’s goal in life was to make it to his 40th birthday. He would turn 40 on September 17, 2009. He never talked about anything after that. Labor day weekend 2009, I moved my brother from the nursing home to a hospice facility. He was at the door of death, and we all knew it would be soon. Would he make it to his 40th birthday?

For the next nine days, I went in and out of the hospice facility. As we got closer and closer and he started to decline further, I spent the night with him on September 16. When I arose on the morning of September 17, 2009, I wished him a big happy birthday. I drove to the local grocery store and bought a bouquet of roses to celebrate his big day. Joe made it to 40.

People were in and out of his room wishing him happy birthday throughout the day, but he stared into space. He hadn’t spoken or eaten in days.

That evening around 5:45, I decided to go to my friend’s house to get a shower. I wasn’t gone 15 minutes from Joe’s side, and my phone rang.

It was mom. Joe passed away after I left. He died on his 40th birthday.

I write these memories down not to impress you but to remind me of what the Lord has done in my life.

The Lord is gracious and good. His presence in my life has been overwhelming especially when there are many days I don’t feel deserving of his love.

How could me, a wretched woman, find mercy with a holy God? How could a holy God love me this much?

Oh, but he has, and I am so thankful! I remember these memories to remind myself to thank him every day for his love, provisions, and mercy in my life. I don’t ever want to forget or take the Lord for granted.

These things did not happen by anything I have done. No luck, karma, or magic can bring about the goodness of the Lord in your life.

As I sit here and write this, I am reminded of a passage from the Bible that says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to changes.” James 1:7

I have another passage for you to consider from Matthew 7:11, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Lastly, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32

I know things aren’t great right now in the world, and honestly, I don’t see them getting any time soon. But I have no choice but to trust in the Lord. Given all that has happened to me over the last 30 years, why would I trust in man for my future?

Trust in the Lord. Trust him with your life. He sees his children and, like any good parent, will see that they have everything they need. His love is everlasting, and His mercy and grace are unending.

The Lord God Almighty has not forsaken his children. And while many reject God and denounce him and will continue to do so, that doesn’t mean he loves them any less. He is waiting for more people to turn to him, but there will come a day, like in the days of Noah, where he will shut the door, and it will be too late.

If you are running from the Lord, stop. Maybe you are mad at God for something that has happened in your life. He can handle your anger, but take it from me – don’t stay mad at God for long, or you will miss out on the blessings he has for you.

And if you have never decided to follow Jesus and let Him be Lord and Savior in your life, today is the day of salvation. Look around. Do you see the destruction? The lawlessness increasing? Open your eyes, your heart, and your mind. Don’t waste another minute. Come to Jesus while there is still time.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4, For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,”

What memories are precious to you? Are there things you have forgotten? Do those memories bring pleasure or pain?

I have both. I’m not going to lie, but I choose to remember the good memories and learn from the bad ones when facing tough times.

Beyond thankful,

The Teaching Lady

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